Patient Experience: The Customer Journey in Healthcare

Patient Experience: The Customer Journey in Healthcare

You need a healthcare provider. Full stop. But patient experience is the key to differentiate quality, value and outcomes.


When so many healthcare options are available, quality of care becomes the biggest differentiator. If clinicians think and act like they are indispensable, they’re in for a rude awakening.


According to Beckers Hospital Review, “healthcare consumers increasingly view their experience with a provider as a key consideration for determining if they'll return to or recommend the provider, largely because it remains one of the few ways consumers can differentiate providers.”


As consumers, isn’t our experience with the product or service the one that defines its perceived quality and our loyalty? Why should patients be any different? Why would healthcare be exempt from giving the best patient experience possible?


Healthcare deals with life and well-being, which - for the most part - places it on a whole different level than just any product or service. It is for that very reason that patient experience and engagement becomes all the more crucial.


There are three key ways to define patient experience: scholarly, technically and medically. Textbook definitions refer to it as “the sum or a range of interactions the patient has with the healthcare system, encompassing his/her treatment, expectations, goals and actual outcomes”. Simply put, with the key word being patient, experience is a story owned by the patient. It is his/her perception and appreciation of the treatment across the continuum of care.


The patient is the customer. The customer is the patient. Their experience will shape how they define the quality of healthcare that will chart the future of providers if these providers survive in the continuously changing system.


To deliver that positive patient experience, personalization of care and thereby engagement are key. Clinicians have in their power to get patient information and data key to their individual needs, as they have it already. Unlike in marketing, where “personas” have to be built around a customer to know them, understand what appeals to them and why, clinicians are already there.


However, patient experience is already on a roll from that point of initial interaction with the patient - or even far earlier than that, starting from setting the appointment for consultation. How the patient ended up in front of the clinician - how hard and easy to get hold of a healthcare provider is part of the patient experience.


As data is key to personalization, being both patient generated and objective data, what can complicate the process getting all such that patient data from medical history to lab test results, all while dealing with concerns the patient might have. This all combines to become the patient experience, and how he/she feels about the quality of care they’re receiving.


Of course, patient satisfaction is relative. The treatment outcome may be positive but the experience is not. For patient satisfaction to be the measure of good patient experience, the journey of the patient must be one that is optimized and efficient.


So all these buzzwords - engagement, satisfaction, outcome, how they are met in that journey, either from a perception or reality standpoint - is what patient experience will be about.


The Beckers Hospital Review also noted that “patients no longer view great outcomes as a key differentiator — great outcomes are expected. What remains is the patient's overall experience, which encompasses everything from customer service to patient-centeredness and care coordination among providers.”


The Customer Journey from the Patient’s Perspective


It begins with engagement and ends with satisfaction. In between that starting and end point in that continuum of care include the delivery of the care, treatment and outcome.


Unless patient experience is in the heart of this cycle, turning a customer/patient into an advocate (who will recommend your care, and give your service a good name) will never be fully achieved.


Patient experience begins with engagement, so how do you communicate care? The manner, the efficiency, the method, the platform - they all matter to the patient. While the service can be clinician-led or patient-led, patient experience and how it’s communicated is one that is patient-led.


As patients will increasingly desire, if not demand, personalized care and communication, how do you do cope with the  “me, here and now” mindset of today’s patients? There are medical chatbots and virtual customer assistants, and there are also next-gen communication platforms like LifeWIRE.


As unlimited engagement anywhere, anytime, on any device allows the patient to be actively involved, if not control, the “dialogue”, and is responsive in real time, and is automated to clinician needs and provides insight to both the clinician and patient, then that is where patient care can really step up. Integrating innovative health technology solutions, is the way forward to better engage patients treatment will lead to desired outcomes .


As an example, improving the patient experience before, during and after a treatment, especially when it comes to surgery, patient safety is key. Patient experience in the treatment process that will improve outcomes include reducing costs by reducing eliminating surgery cancellations or delays, lowering complication rates or readmissions and lengths of stay.


According to The American Genius, patient data is a critical aspect of how care is delivered, yet much of these medical information exchanges today are still carried out by fax. While there are technologies that can gather medical records from multiple providers, LifeWIRE’s communication platform not only collects data, it closes the loop of communication among, and between, providers in the care team helping to transform data into valuable information.


The fascinating future of technology in healthcare is already here. LifeWIRE is more than a communication platform: it collects wearable, medical device and patient-generated data and augments the Electronic Health Records to give a complete view of the patient. It can pull data from EHR, as well as push data into it, and even pull data that EHR doesn’t have that is patient generated.


Having access to and using technology that is patient experience (PX)-centred improves population health, reduces care costs, and - most importantly - satisfies patients.


And as the data shows, a truly satisfied patient goes on to be an advocate of that patient experience under your care.




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